Aaron Stern, United States Agency for International Development.
Should governments provide foreign aid to Less Developed Countries bilaterally or multilaterally through institutions such as the United Nations? The nature of China’s growing foreign aid and the Biden administration’s greater emphasis on international cooperation have brought this question to the fore. The choice between bilateral and multilateral foreign aid to address global challenges such as climate change, malnutrition, and pandemic disease outbreaks is important for well-established donor governments like the US and Japan, as well as for China and emerging donor South Korea. This talk will focus on the practical aspects of whether bilateral vs. multilateral foreign aid is more effective for the countries that receive aid in light of the approaches used by the US, Japanese, Chinese and South Korean governments. However, it will also consider the question from a political perspective: what are the relative benefits for a donor country from these two approaches to foreign aid?